Counsel for David Burness and others in the multiple action against the Fiji National Provident Fund and Government’s decision to make substantial changes to pensions already granted to pensioners has requested the Chief Executive Officer Aisake Taito to stop insulting her clients in public meetings. Taito has referred to her clients and pensioners as being ‘well-off’ and beneficiaries of ‘overly generous’ pensions at the expense of FNPF members.
Dr Shaista Shameem, whose challenge on behalf of David Burness and others is already in court, said that pensioners receiving pensions from FNPF are elderly, and have no other source of income. Many are in ill-health. They were told when they retired that the pensions they would be getting would be given to them for life. They did not make any other arrangements for alternative sources of income and many are past the age when they can find work. These pensioners had a contract with the FNPF, and it is the court that will determine the outcome of the case, not Mr Taito.
For Mr Taito to arrogantly threaten to reduce the pensions of those who do not accept the FNPF and Government proposal by the end of the year when a case challenging this decision on human rights grounds is before the courts, is simply irresponsible, ruthless and dictatorial. Such announcements insult the judicial mechanisms of Fiji.
Dr Shameem said her client and others seeking the court’s decision will continue to pursue their case in court irrespective of the announcement. The proposal of the FNPF is unacceptable to Mr Burness.
In the meantime, Dr Shameem said Mr Taito should stop throwing insults at her clients in public. As a public officer whose salary is paid by tax-payers, including former tax-payers, Mr Taito should exhibit more decorum in public meetings.